Saturday, 6 February 2016


I had rather intended this stay in New Zealand to be a combination of catching up with The Family and my friends both here in Hawkes Bay and elsewhere in the country; a safari with Pauline via seeing Gareth in Auckland (he flew the same route as I did and arrived yesterday); some croquet with a tournament in Tauranga; and then do all sorts of things that I haven't done as a tourist because I was only a tourist for a relatively short while back in 2005. Living in a place and being a tourist are entirely different things. One may experience more as a tourist in terms of quantity but for quality of experience nothing beats living in a place.

However with the alterations in the arrangements next week because Pauline had to go to Australia I have suddenly just picked up where I left off nearly two years ago. I cannot believe that I've been away that long. Sitting chatting to people today at croquet it was as if I'd just been away for my usual six months. There were however lots of new people and it was a bit odd not knowing everyone and not being known by many.

Playing croquet after two years absence from the game was strange. Almost everything was second nature but in reality my games today consisted of general mediocrity interspersed with flashes of sheer incompetence. However after having run a hoop from about 20 yards to win a game one stranger did tell me that I showed promise for a newcomer.  Hmmm.

Arriving in New Zealand now is the most slick operation I've ever encountered at an airport. I was off the plane and out of the terminal in somewhere around 15 minutes: everything is automated. The downside? No cheery border control officer to wish you an enjoyable stay. Then what is for me always one of the most emotional of moments: leaving the International Terminal and stepping into the heat of a sunny day (in 11 years I have never arrived on a wet day) and walking to the Domestic Terminal. Why I didn't take a photo of the tree-lined beautiful parts of that walk to show you I have no idea. 

Then the flight to Napier which is the same flying time as my first flight of the journey from Stornoway to Glasgow:

Wednesday, 3 February 2016


Well, of course, I'm always 'here' it's just a case of where 'here' is. Today it's Kiwiland:

I arrived in Napier around 1800 hrs  and, guess what? I was offered a celebratory glass of wine which, out of politeness, of course, I accepted. After dinner we decided that the pool, at around 35 ºC, was very inviting:

I'm not sure how long we were in there but it was pretty late when we all emerged, had some green tea and retired to bed happy and absolutely pooped! 

I woke 0645 with absolutely no idea of the time (phones switched off and no clock!!), got up, showered and made my way into the living area of the house to find that I'd got up at 0645 - true Kiwi fashion - to another fabulous day:

Okay so I know that I've just lots a HUGE number of friends who are still languishing in Scotland's dreaich and dismal or cold, wet and windy weather but, hey, I'll just have to cope with it.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Journey: Glasgow to New Zealand

Well that's the first two intercontinental legs completed. Just the last hop over the Tassie from Melbourne to Auckland and then the last leg on the local plane from Auckland to Napier.
Leave Glasgow Monday 1 February 2055. Arrive Dubai 0810 local time (0410 UK time)
Leave Dubai Tuesday 1015 Local time (0615 UK time)
Arrive Auckland Wednesday 1345 (local time) Wednesday 0045 (UK time)
Leave Auckland 1640 (local time) 0340 (UK time) Arrive Napier 1740 (local time) 0440 (UK time)

Monday, 1 February 2016


will always make itself felt. Recently I was at the Waitrose store in Milnegarvie and was trying to buy some unusual and different wines for a gift. I was beginning to exhaust my knowledge when an assistant asked if she could help. I've never really thought about supermarkets employing wine experts in the store but this lady (who wasn't the store's main wine person - he was away learning about new wines) certainly knew her stuff. I can't imagine Tesco stores providing that service.

Yesterday Anna wanted to take me for lunch at one of her 'finds': The Côte Brasserie in Glasgow's West Nile Street. Good choice! I have to say that it was one of the most contented lunches I have had: quality company, quality service, quality food and wine. For what more can a person ask? I shall be on the other side of the globe for six weeks but when I return and pass through Glasgow for a few days I expect to have more meals here. I was, I have to admit, astonished to find that it's a chain restaurant.

I think even Cro would have enjoyed it.

Talking of Cro here's a picture I took yesterday in Glasgow's Buchanan Gallery which you/he might appreciate

Ah well. In a little over an hour the car comes to collect me and I shall be Emirates' problem. Storm Henry may rage but, hopefully, I shall be on my way to the other side of the world.